Re: [civilwarwest] Forrest as an army commander
- Greetings Bob,I agree with your 3rd issue. The 2nd issue ,I think was invalid by 1863, where southern armies were retreating. That issue would be about as important as denying Cleburne the promotion because he was in hardware. M.O.The 1st issue rests on not seniority but Jefferson Davis and his inability to separate performance and association-WPThe 4th issue... I take issue ( well.. for argument sake)There was not a refusal to surrender but a disagreement why. When overruled, he asked permission to leave. Buckner agreed as long as performed before his negotiations with Grant. Forrest left with all of his command minus one company plus various others including Gen. Pillow. ~At Chatta. after the loss, Bragg ordered Forrest to turn his troops over to Wheeler. This was the 2nd time Bragg had taken away the boys Forrest had recruited, trained and equiped without Bragg's help as promised. Forrest instead of sniping like others , faced Bragg at his headquaters and expressed his feelings in exact terms and threatened him with peril if he crossed his path againForrest predicted that no action would take place and Bragg did not report it.Bragg's performance at Chatt, is notedFt. Pillow, Forrest claims the breastworks were taken all along the line, with the newly freed slaves retreating to the river with arms where a gunboat waited. I do not intend to defend these soldiers that took a fortified position. Official reports of the combatants mean more than impressions.Respectfully,
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There are several issues in considering NBF for higher command. First, he
was promoted to MG as late as Dec 1863 and the CS army was very strict about
seniority. Considering the notoriously touchy feelings among Civil War
generals in general and Rebel ones in particular, I doubt that he could have
been temporarily appointed to full general, jumping over the senior LTGEN at
corps command in the AOT without wholesale resignations. Nor would Jefferson
Davis have considered doing it.
Second, NBF was an uneducated former slave dealer, a definite put down to
Third, NBF had not attended the School on the Hudson, another "requirement"
for higher rank. Look at Cleburne (BTW, a MG Dec 1862, a full year ahead of
NBF) who was denied corps command, let alone army.
Finally, I am curious about those who argue that Forrest "got along" with
other officers. It is my impression that he was notoriously insubordinate,
starting with his refusal to surrender at Donelson. Didn't he allegedly
threaten to shoot Bragg? And why was he off massacring troops at Fort Pillow
instead of supporting Joe Johnston against Sherman in the summer of 1864?
IIRC, he was sent to the Mississippi to raid to get him away from the AOT
and from his disputes with the various officers he felt were not terribly
A big part of being a "general" is the ability to get along with and use
subordinates who may not be as good as you are, but with whom you are stuck.
You must convince them that you have the skills and knowledge to provide the
leadership necessary to being victory and then use them to the best of their
ability. One thing NBF never had was much tolerance for what he perceived as
He never served as a line infantry officer, commanding a brigade or division
in the drudgery of day to day activities, nor did he demonstrate a great
knowledge and ability to use logistics.
He was a superb mounted infantry commander, a great scout and tremendous
raider. To have made him the commander of an infantry corps, let alone an
army would have been a greater mistake than appointing Hood and far less
likely that the appointment of Cleburne would have been.
Judy and Bob Huddleston
10643 Sperry Street
Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
"The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is
given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable
and uncontrollable events."
Sir Winston Churchill